America’s Few – Marine Aces of the South Pacific
Saturday, Feb 25, 11:00 am
Presentation and Book Signing by Bill Yenne
Event included with Museum admission.
They were America’s Few, this handful of US Marine Corps aviators.
The term “Few” is, of course, borrowed from Winston Churchill’s iconic characterization of the outnumbered fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force who saved Britain from the Germans in 1940. Like Britain’s Few, America’s Few were in the right place at the right time to curb the invincibility of an Axis foe. For the American Few in the fall of 1942, the right place was a small, obscure South Pacific island called Guadalcanal which no one could have predicted would be the venue of a turning point in world history.
This is not a story of grand strategy. These have been written, some of them magnificently. These are stories of individual battles, one-on-one battles, battles of the most personal kind. These are the stories of individual lives of a unique group of men. Many of the stories are told in their own words, in after-action reports written on the day that battles happened!
There are the stories of the Marines with the highest tally of aerial victories. This includes a study in contrasts between Medal of Honor recipients Gregory Boyington and Joseph Jacob Foss. Boyington was a bad boy who could do nothing right—except in combat—while Foss went on to a postwar career as the Governor of South Dakota.
These stories include those of Robert Murray Hanson, born in India, who may well have been the second highest scoring Marine Ace. How? We’ll tell the story.
These include stories of Marion Carl, the first Marine ace; of Joe Bauer, arguably the best Marine ace, who disappeared without a trace; of Jim Swett, who shot down seven enemy aircraft in about an hour; and of Harold “Murderous Manny” Segal, who was shot down at sea only to find that hid life raft had no paddles. Adrift and homeless, he wound up like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner—and then he killed an albatross, ensuring bad luck!
These are just a few of the stories.
A prolific author, Bill Yenne has written more than three dozen books on historical topics, as well as several novels. He has contributed to encyclopedias of both world wars, and has been featured in documentaries on the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, the Smithsonian Channel and ARD German Television. The “Wall Street Journal” notes that Yenne writes “with a cinematic vividness,” and Gen. Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, called Yenne’s recent biography of Alexander the Great, the “best yet.” Yenne, whose books have been included in Amazon’s “100 Best Books of the Year,” currently lives in San Francisco, CA.